Together with the Global Landscapes Forum and UN Environment, Wageningen University & Research is launching massive open online courses (MOOCs) to train and inspire the next generations of landscape professionals. The courses are launched as part of the Landscape Academy, a collaborative platform for education on landscape approaches, hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum.
Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) trains professionals to improve their impact on food system development. These food systems are based in landscapes, which are prone to competing claims on resources, biodiversity loss and climate change. Food system development therefore depends on the ability of professionals to combine landscape functions, leading to sustainable and inclusive development. This requires strong facilitative leadership of landscape professionals on the ground.
Cora van Oosten, coordinator of the Learning Landscapes Programme at WUR: "Bringing different sectors in a landscape together is essential, which requires real landscape leadership. Someone has to take the lead in connecting stakeholders, helping them to realise their interdependencies and facilitate a process towards a shared vision and collective action."
The WUR-programme focuses on creating the capacities for such transformational change in landscapes. Through active involvement in multiple landscapes as well as developing online learning modules, van Oosten and her team bring combinations of face-to-face and online learning within your reach.
Open Online Courses
Wageningen University & Research, the Global Landscapes Forum and UN Environment decided to join hands and launch massive open online courses (MOOCs) as part of the Landscape Academy, to train and inspire the next generations of landscape professionals.
Van Oosten: "At the Global Landscape Forum in Bonn, we hear from many organisations, companies and practitioners that they lack the opportunity to be properly trained in operationalising landscape approaches in their own context. At the same time, we see that many young professionals and students are getting engaged in landscape approaches, and want to learn more about the practical side of it. This is why we are mobilising our GLF partners, practitioners and students to join the Landscape Academy, so they can be confident in the change they want to bring about in their own landscapes. Connect globally, to act locally, that is what we want to achieve."
Learners can currently register for three courses, on landscape leadership, landscape governance and landscape finance. All courses are free to audit. If you wish to receive a certificate, a fee is required; for this fee additional financial assistance from EdX is available.
Professionals for the future
The short online courses are designed for learners to complete alongside their own work and offer the chance to build action plans for their own landscapes. Each course is primarily video-based and offers interactive learning and the space to link and share with global learners.
Van Oosten: "Learning about leadership, or decision-making or landscape investments is one thing, but applying it to your own situation and then sharing this with people from around the world adds much value. In the first run of these courses, many learners said this was the most interesting part of the programme."
The networking element of the Landscape Academy is important. Hosted by the Global Landscapes Forum, the ambition is to support organisations, professionals and practitioners to strengthen the work they are already doing, but do it by adopting a truly landscape oriented approach. The first run of the courses saw over fifty percent participation from the private sector.
"The value of these courses is clear for many people. Companies are focusing now beyond just sourcing concerns and really seeing opportunities in sustainability. And they recruiting people to help those efforts. We're reaching out to many companies to ensure that the Landscape Academy will provide the types of people they want to hire," says van Oosten.
The courses are open to everyone, with both free and certified versions available. The aim is to get as many learners as possible to further enrich the learning experience and generate a global community. This is already happening, via the Youth in Landscapes Initiative, which now also has a Wageningen branch, as well as through the Global Landscapes Forum which will soon launch an online interactive platform.